I was asked recently why my fiction is written primarily in the third person, and not just in the third person but without names. This man who follows my blog wanted to know why it’s always “she this” and “he that”. I actually hadn’t realized there were as many pieces written that way until he questioned my motives behind it. After thinking about it a while (a long while, he wrote me about a month ago!), I realize there are a couple reasons behind my writing that way.
Simply put, I’m a voyeur. Yes, I’m also an exhibitionist. One can be both you know. As with my exhibitionism, there are several levels to my voyeurism as well. I’m one of those people who likes to sit back in a crowd and just watch the people. I like trying to figure them out. Who are they? What they are thinking? What’s their story? I also like to watch couples when they are intimate. Does their dynamic change from that of the everyday? Does the mouse become the lioness? Does the baron become the slave?
I also very much enjoy reading about the intimate lives of strangers, and sometimes friends. I crave knowing. I want to know everything. The blogging community is a most wonderful playground for such voyeuristic tendencies. I can read about how Sally pulled off a coup at the homeowners association before going home to find her husband jacking off to lesbian porn. I can also read about John’s first anal experience, or Peg’s first whipping, or how Timothy and his wife have moved into a Femdom relationship with no ejaculation allowed and him caged nearly 100% of the time.
Writing in the third person puts me squarely in the story as the voyeur. I am the one watching and relating what is going on with the characters. When reading the story you are the one who becomes the voyeuristic peeping Tom. One of the great magic tricks of writing.
The other reason I like to write characters without names is because I don’t want them tainted by your preconceived ideas from experiences with people of certain names. Yes, you have them. We all do. Some have issue with blondes or redheads. Others have issue with characters of different heritage. Even though these are ways a writer would describe a character, we can often overlook it if it only comes up once or twice. A person’s name though, that will be a major part of the telling of the story if it is used.
Would you get turned on by a story where the leading man has your ass-hat of an ex-husband’s name? Your brother’s name? Frankly, either would pretty much ruin it for me. What if the leading lady shared a name with your first love? Would you be able to read the story for what it is without constantly going back to that image of your first love in your head? I was raped as a young woman. I can’t read stories with his name in it without going back to that time. I usually stop reading when that name shows up.
I don’t want people to stop reading something because a name hits them the wrong way, not when it is about the story rather than the characters. Writing characters without names allows the reader to imagine whomever they would like as the characters.